El Escorial
from volume 10, no. 3, 8, 13, 18 and 23

Series on Purported Apparitions in El Escorial, Spain. Author: Juan Gonzalez provided to Michael Cain, editor of The DAILY CATHOLIC

The Heavenly call to Prayer, Penance and Sacrifice:
The El Escorial Apparitions


    Our Lady of Sorrows El Escorial visionary Amparo Cuevas     This is the first of two sections on the apparitions of El Escorial, Spain first presented in A CALL TO PEACE in the mid 90's and in the DAILY CATHOLIC in January and February 1999. For the 2nd section, see SECTION TWO. Occuring during the same time frame as Betania and Medjugorje, it has received little publicity but is as important as the others for Our Lady comes as Nuestra Senora de los Dolores - "Our Lady of Sorrows" to call all her children back to her Divine Son Jesus through Prayer, Penance and Sacrifice in atonement for our own sins and those of the entire world. Her chosen messenger is a housewife and mother of seven Luz Amparo Cuevas and, like both Medjugorje and Betania, are still on-going.

        Southwest of Lourdes in El Escorial, Spain north of Madrid is another lesser-known apparition site which began at shortly after the Betania apparitions had commenced and just prior to the Medjugorje apparitions. The parallels of El Escorial to Lourdes and Betania are astounding. Today we begin a multi-part series on these visions brought to you by Juan Gonzalez, a linguist and confidant of the visionary Amparo Cuevas. Juan has dedicated his life to translating many works and messages in five languages into English. He has over 2000 pages on the messages to Amparo and has translated many of noted French Mariologist Father Rene Laurentin's books on Medjugojre, Marian Apparitions and San Nicholas. The focus on El Escorial is spreading the need for Prayer, Penance and Sacrifice as Our Lady repeats over and over to her children, not only in Spain but throughout the world as we await the dawn of a new, glorious spiritual age promised by Jesus and His Blessed Mother

        No matter the age, Our Lady has been imparting the same message: "Pray! Pray! Pray!" It is only through constant prayer, taken as a bouquet in loving, motherly intercession before the Throne of God, that the hearts of mankind will eventually be softened and all her little ones brought into accord with the Will of God. This continuing in-depth series on the grace-filled mystical phenomena of Our Lady's appearances through the ages and the meaning of her messages will open eyes and hearts because she is the mother of us all and her words of wisdom and warnings must be taken seriously...very seriously!

A vital petition from Our Lady of Sorrows for Prayer, Penance and Sacrifice

    From El Escorial in Spain comes a special "victim soul": visionary and mystic Amparo Cuevas promotion the vital petition for Prayer, Penance and Sacrifice from nuestra Senora de los Delores - Our Lady of Sorrows.

    Shortly after Our Lady began appearing to Betania visionary and mystic Maria Esperanza di Bianchini on a remote farm south of Caracas in Venezuela, and a month before she appeared to six children in another remote mountain village known as Medjugorje, the Blessed Mother Mary chose a middle age mother of seven to impart her messages of Prayer, Penance and Sacrifice for the world. Like the others before and after, the Blessed Virgin chose a smaller municipality a short distance from a major city to be a magnet to attract pilgrims from al over. And like Betania and Medjugorje, these lesser-known apparitions are still taking place.

    Approximately 60 kilometers (a little over 37 miles) northwest of Madrid lies the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. It has served as the focus of religious pilgrimages by people from different nationalities and cultures from throughout the world for the past fourteen years. The reason for these pilgrimages is that Jesus and His Blessed Mother had been appearing to one of the members of the community at Prado Nuevo (New Meadow), at an area of El Escorial.

    The visionary, Luz Amparo Cuevas, a victim soul, had been receiving apparitions there until recently when the civil authorities decided to fence off Prado Nuevo for the expressed purpose of defying the visionary and the people who attended this event. They also constructed a major thoroughfare a very short distance from the Prado. Civil authorities even tried to burn down the beautiful Ash Tree where Our Lady appeared every first Saturday, but their efforts were futile. God would not allow it. (Similar obstruction has been recorded at Lourdes, Fatima, Garabandal, Medjugorje and many other apparition sites including Conyers, Georgia where local ordinances have been drafted to hinder pilgrims from conveniently getting to the holy hill and apparition room.)

    These efforts on the part of the local government to discourage the faithful from going to Prado Nuevo have proved fruitless. Many people still meet on one side of the thoroughfare and facing the Prado recite the Rosary every Saturday afternoon as cars whiz by. As many as 1,000 gather there on a regular Saturday and then congregate in a nearby rented building secured by a group of believers which provides a forum for priests to speak as well as Amparo to convey the most recent message. She continues to receive apparitions from Our Blessed Mother on the first Saturday of each month and record the messages imparted by Our Lady at another location other than the Ash Tree which has been corded off for now by civil authorities in an effort to thwart the apparitions and influx of pilgrims. Regardless of the weather or season of the year, the multitudes, which gather there on the first Saturday each month, have been estimated near the 20,000 range. The more they are restrained, the more they come in faith.

    Though Our Lady has requested a chapel be built on the site of the Apparition, the Blessed Mother understands that Amparo must first of all be obedient to the Magisterium and neither the Bishop nor the Cardinal have approved the Apparitions nor begun an investigation. Therefore, no masses are allowed on the site, but the Rosary is prayed fervently, taking an hour to say full five decades in Spanish.

    On every Saturday, there are phalanxes of policemen sent to protect and guard the faithful who have gathered to pray. On the first Saturdays of each month, the force mushrooms to well over 25 police cars. The reason for all the protection is threats to pilgrims by fanatics who have threatened Amparo and her followers.

    The majestic Ash Tree, which had become the centerpiece of the Apparition site was constantly adorned with flowers and candles which the faithful would bring similar to all other apparition sites. Nearby, was a water trough with an underground fountain which Our Lady assured was healing water. These are now all blockaded, but through prayer and a concentrated effort by believers to negotiate reopening it. There is a movement underway to return to the Ash Tree and, prayerfully, someday a chapel will be built just as one was built at Lourdes, LaSalette, Fatima, San Nicolas, and now being built at Betania.

El Escorial visionary Amparo Cuevas: on a mission for souls

    The visionary Amparo Cuevas was born on March 13, 1931 in the village of El Pesebre, municipality of Penascosa, province of Albacete in Spain. Along with husband Nicasio Barderas Bravo they have seven children between 24 and 36. When she first began experiencing communication with Our Lord her children were between 10 24 and needed more attention. Amparo does not have a formal education and hardly knows how to read and write. She was the perfect candidate to become a humble messenger.

    Both Amparo and Nicasio suffered from poor health. He worked the soil and served as part-time watchman and gate-keeper at the same house Amparo was employed as a cleaning woman. During a pilgrimage to Lourdes, she was healed of a severe heart ailment.

    Amparo's life was one of extreme poverty, sacrifice, and hard work. This background enabled her to prepare well for a life of prayer, sacrifice and penance which the Blessed Mother was going to entrust to her in her messages and private revelations to her for her own spiritual development.

    Her early childhood was marked with tragedy after her own mother died, for her stepmother kept her locked in a room for long hours at a time. Though she did not know how to pray as a child, she invoked the Blessed Mother with filial devotion, and Our Lady responded in kind. From as long as she could remember Amparo always felt a compassionate love toward her neighbor. Yet, her spirituality was surface in the early years for though she acknowledged the existence of a Supreme Being, Amparo was unconcerned about carrying out her religious responsibilities.

    However, toward the middle of November in 1980, Amparo had a religious experience, which would affect her entire life as we all as her relationship with God. She heard a voice, which told her: "Pray for the peace of the world and the conversion of sinners. Love one another. You are going to receive trials of suffering." Indeed, Amparo began to bleed in her forehead and hands, feeling sharp pains. She cried out in fright: "Well, what is this!?!" Our Lord, nailed to the cross, then appeared to her and said: "My daughter, this is the Passion of Christ. You have to endure it completely." Amparo answered, "I will not refuse it." Jesus nodded. "If you do not refuse it for a few seconds, how much would I spend entire hours on the cross dying for the same people who were crucifying Me? You can save many souls with your suffering."

    Jesus then asked Amparo if she would accept and she responded, "With your help, Lord, I will endure it." Thus, in this brief communication from Jesus, Amparo heard two words which she would hear again and again during the course of the next fourteen years in which she would receive messages: PRAYER and SUFFERING (which includes sacrifice and penance). These two words would be the cornerstone of her mission to save souls.

    From that moment on, Amparo became a different person. She learned the importance of and the value of the virtue of humility, which would be stressed in Mary's messages to her. Amparo was instructed to seek opportunities to show that humility. Our Lady would ask her to kiss the ground "for the conversion of sinners", "for consecrated souls", "for the salvation of humanity", "for the souls in purgatory", etc. Slowly Amparo began to develop spirituality and her life became more intense in the practice of virtues such as humility, charity, faith, and others.

Mystical Gifts and the Chalice of Suffering

    At the same time she was developing spiritually, God began to endow her with certain gifts (charisms). Amparo began to suffer the stigmata, that are she suffered bleeding of the forehead, eyes, mouth a shoulder, back, hanks, knees and feet. This bleeding sometimes occurred with visible wounds; at other times, there was blood without wounds. Then there are instances when there is no blood, no wounds but she experiences a corresponding sharp pain. The nature and location of the pains are usually dependent on which Passion scene Amparo is meditating upon. Eye-witnesses relate that they've seen in the center of her breast a heart in relief, which is pierced by a sword.

    Amparo normally suffered the stigmata when Our Lady would appear to her at Prado Nuevo. At times, she would go into ecstasy with blood flowing from her hands, feet, forehead, and eyes. Other times, when in ecstasy, there would be no bleeding. Other accounts of the visible stigmata have been recorded in other places other than the apparition site including her home and in a Madrid store, but the most memorable was on her first visit to a Carmelite priest Fr. Alfonso Maria Lopez Sendin to whom she requested he be her confessor and spiritual director.

    Other charisms attributed to Amparo are an intense fragrance of roses emanating around her, her ability to converse with the Blessed Virgin in an unknown language, in some instances, during moments of ecstasy. Reference to this "unknown" and sometimes "heavenly" language appears in the messages. There are times when the word "unintelligible" is used to describe the language.

    Amparo also has been blessed with the gift of bilocation which enabled her to be in Madrid supervising the work on the painting of the Sorrowful Mother by Madrid artist donna Elvira Soriano which simultaneously being seen in El Escorial. Amparo has received many messages and prophecies and through visions, she has been able to witness some of the most memorable events in the lives of Jesus and His Blessed Mother, such as the Passion and Death of Christ as well as Mary's dormition and Assumption into Heaven.

    This Spanish visionary also experiences the phenomenon of levitation, which enables her to rise above the ground during moments of ecstasy. Many pilgrims present at the apparition site on first Saturdays have been healed physically and spiritually. While at Prado Nuevo countless people have observed the numerous solar phenomena including the spinning of the sun. During the seventeen year period of apparitions, there have been innumerable conversions in El Escorial.

    There have also been many healings of persons not present in El Escorial. These have taken place when Amparo has interceded to God to allow her to take these sufferings upon herself.

    Amparo's life is one of suffering and sometimes very intense suffering. Our Lady often asks if she will drink of the "chalice of suffering." Only Amparo can see and experience this chalice during the apparitions. She describes the chalice as a receptacle very similar to a cup or chalice with two handles and its contents as reddish in color and tasting bitter. Being only human, Amparo complains of the bitterness of the taste, which seems to be stronger at times. Our Lady tells her that it is the same chalice of suffering that her Divine Son drinks daily because of the pains that are caused by humanity. Our Lady always follows this with a request for prayers and for penance.

    Our Lady invites Amparo to help her to suffer. She shows Amparo her heart full of thorns, which are there because of consecrated souls who have committed serious sins. Amparo often attempts to remove these thorns from the Sorrowful Mother and place them on her own body. Often they last for days. Then they gradually disappear because of Amparo's willingness to suffer and pray as a victim soul that makes it possible for consecrated souls to be forgiven. Our Lady also would permit Amparo to include their names in the book of life as witnessed by others who have seen her reaching for something, making a gesture of writing from right to left in the air, then kiss it and return it to Our Lady. The Blessed Virgin then tells her that the name of the person, which Amparo has inscribed, will never be erased!

    The sufferings, which Amparo had to bear, were not limited to those shared with the Blessed Mother or with Jesus. On May 26, 1983, Amparo underwent an experience the likes of which she had never had and, more than likely, never will again. Amparo learned that the little chapel or niche at Prado Nuevo had been the target of gunshots, so she went there to pray at 11:00 in the morning. Attentive to her prayer and on her knees, she did not noticed that three hooded individuals (later identified by the Blessed Mother as two men and a woman) were walking toward her. They snatched her cardigan sweater, which was draped over her shoulders, and shoved it over her head, tying it to Amparo's neck. Then Amparo suffered the ultimate humility as they stripped her completely and threw her clothes into the drinking tank used by the wild cows, which grazed throughout the meadow. Shoving and dragging her, they led her to a more rocky and distant place where they demanded she state that the apparitions and messages were false. Amparo, like Saint Bernadette at Lourdes and Father Jozo Zovko, OFM in Medjugorje, refused to betray God and for her loyalty, she was tortured as the thugs slammed her face and body with vicious blows. They even threatened to hang her, sadistically describing how to do away with her either by hanging or strangling. Just as they were about to carry out their dastardly deed, they heard someone approaching nearby and fled the scene.

    Amparo was discovered near dead, covered with lacerations and blood. Placed on a stretcher, she was taken to the hospital where doctors treated blows on her head, her swollen face and wounds and marks from head to toe. Emerging from death's door, Amparo recovered enough to leave the hospital and return home at the request of her family. In her bed of suffering, Amparo reached out just as Pope John Paul II did to his attacker after he had been shot, she said of her attackers: "I forgive them and I would give my life for them if it were necessary. What is most important is that those souls be saved."

"By their fruits you shall know them."

    The courage and heroism displayed by Luz Amparo Cuevas on that May day in 1983 have won for her the admiration and support of thousands of people who travel to El Escorial for the apparition every first Saturday of the month. Ever since she was first called by Our Lord in November and the ensuing countless apparitions of the Blessed Mother during the past 17 plus years Amparo believes that her function and mission (her Plan of Life, if you will) is to help Jesus save souls through prayer, sacrifices and penance. This has been frequently confirmed in the messages which she receives from Our Blessed Mother and which are published monthly in Spanish and disseminated. She prays and suffers very much, and yet when one sits down to interview her, she communicates humility, simplicity, love, peace, and a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother and to her Suffering Savior.

    Jesus has given her another mission - one which is designed to put the theoretical aspects of the commandment to love one's neighbor into actual practice. She has begun to care for one of the most abandoned most neglected groups in our society: the elderly. There in El Escorial Amparo has established a Home for the Elderly which provides living facilities for up to twenty of the poorest of the destitute senior citizens (some of whom can hardly walk), so that they can live the rest of their lives with honor, dignity and love. She has also established another Home for the Elderly in Soria with more in the planning. One of the beautiful aspects of this project is that everyone who works at these Homes, and who come from every walk in life have totally volunteered their time and talents.

    In carrying out her twofold mission, saving souls and providing Homes for the Elderly, Amparo Cuevas understands the full significance of Our Lady's request: "I ask you for prayer, penance and sacrifice."

    We have covered who the messenger is in these first four segments on the Visions in El Escorial, Spain. Next installment we will begin to cover the messages imparted to Amparo and how they relate to the whole world in Our Lady's universal request to pray, do penance and sacrifice.

Characteristics of the Messages

    The language of the messages to visionary Amparo Cuevas in El Escorial, Spain is very simple and direct. After all, the visionary is a simple, formally uneducated person. Certain phrases or sentences are repeated more to stress a point or a theme. As Our Lord pointed out to another visionary in this country, "I am not bound by the rules of grammar." What is important is that He touches souls so that they repent and change their lives.

    The length of the message varies. A very small number limit themselves to two to three paragraphs. In a couple of instances, the Blessed Mother simply comes to emphasize her request for sacrifice, penance and prayer, gives her blessing, and disappears. Normally, however, the English translation of the messages results in from two to seven pages. There are some ten or twelve messages that contained between nine and twelve pages of translation. The difference lies in the fact that in the apparitions which reflected these messages, Amparo was asked to narrate what she saw.

    Usually, the speakers in the apparitions are our Blessed Mother and the visionary Amparo. In a number of the messages, however, Jesus appeared after His Mother had spoken, and at the end of the messages, Jesus blessed the multitude, and His Mother blesses the multitude. There are no other speakers.

    Because of the complexity, repetition of themes and variety of topics presented in the messages to Amparo during the past 18 years, it is somewhat difficult to categorize or classify the messages. Therefore, this writer has chosen the messages. Therefore, this writer has chosen a rather arbitrary way of classification. The four classes are: (1) Messages of General Concern; (2) Messages containing visions; (3) Messages presenting episodes with insights into the Life of Jesus and His Blessed Mother; and (4) Messages which explain a Theme.

    The Messages of General Concern are those in which the Blessed Mother requests sacrifice, penance and prayer for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls. She encourages all her children to recite her "favorite prayer" the Holy Rosary. She advises everyone to pray the rosary daily and not to go to bed without reciting it. Our Lady asks Amparo and those in attendance to recite all fifteen decades of the rosary, if possible, every day as she asks at Medjugorje. When Our Lord appears, He too emphasizes the recitation of the rosary as "My Mother's favorite prayer." (Editor's note: The Rosary is the Blessed Mother's "favorite prayer" outside of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass).

    Consecrated souls are a popular topic with both Our Lord and Our Lady. Both are critical of the behavior of those consecrated souls who are leading the faithful into the abyss. Jesus accuses them of having abandoned their clerical responsibilities and of having given in to material things and to the pleasures of the world. He condemns the relaxation in religious discipline and calls for prayer and sacrifice to bring them back into their rightful role as shepherds of the flock of Christ, very of Christ, very similar to the messages of LaSalette over a century and a half ago. This theme has appeared many times and in at least two messages, they devote almost an entire message to a discussion of it.

    Satan and his work of destruction are another theme, which appears with great frequency. Our Blessed Mother warns against the power of satan as the great deceiver who causes division and disunity, chaos, confusion, and destruction of families. Concerned over the infiltration of satan into the Church, she asks for much prayer and sacrifice to thwart his efforts in destroying it. Our Lady requests prayers said with the heart for "the Vicar of her Son." She stated in one apparition: "How my heart loves Him!"

    Satan also uses his power to destroy the youth and lead them to hell. The Blessed Virgin admonishes young people to stay away from discotheques and other places of sin and observes that many youth are going to hell because of sins of impurity. To bring the youth back to God and to fight the devil, she advises us to use the most powerful weapon: the rosary. This is to be reinforced with penance and sacrifice.

    Sacrifice is stated so many times in the messages that it reinforces what our lives should be especially since we live in a culture which does not promote sacrifice as something that is socially acceptable. Many times Our Lady points out that her life was a life of sacrifice through constant suffering from the moment she gave her Fiat to the day when God the Father called her to her eternal reward. Even on that day, at age 73, the visionary described her as being very frail.

    Jesus also set Himself as a model of suffering and sacrifice. He reminds us that He suffered His Passion, shed His sacred Blood, and died for us. He further states that even in His glorified state He suffers continuously because of the sins of mankind, particularly those of consecrated souls, namely, those whom He has called to be His shepherds to tend His flock. Both Jesus and Mary point out that many people think they do not suffer because they are already in Heaven. Our Lord and Our Mother respond that they continue to suffer because of the sins, which are, committed daily against them. (Editor's note: Of course Jesus and His Mother cannot suffer in Heaven, but they express their sorrow for sins in human terms so that we might understand how offensive our actions, or lack thereof, are to the Most Blessed Trinity). Our Savior emphasizes that God the Father is merciful to those who repent and return to Him, but He is also just and His justice is severe. Because of this justice, God the Father holds all of His creatures accountable for their actions.

From volume 10, nos. 3, 8, 13, 18 and 23

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